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Winds Take Down Trees in Naugatuck


Police are asking people to stay away from Johnson Street near May Street in Naugatuck after winds brought trees and wires down, which has led to around 200 power outages.

Tree trimmers have been cutting around the power lines to take a tree down and Eversource crews are at the scene, which police said should be clear in the next couple of hours.

A resident said her brother was outside when there was a massive "woosh" around 6 a.m. and the roots of the tree were ripped from the ground. Then the tree toppled onto the street and the neighbor's car.

"It was alive," Cathy Minnella, of Naugatuck, said of the tree. "We had leaves on the tree. Never expected that."

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

NBC Connecticut meteorologist Bob Maxon said winds guts in the area were 25- to 30-miles per hour in the area this morning.

Here’s the full Facebook post from police.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police
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Ice Flies Off Car on I-84, Shatters Another Car's Windshield


It was a scary moment for a woman driving on Interstate 84 when ice that blew off a vehicle in front of her smashed into her windshield and shattered it, state police said.

State police said the incident happened Wednesday morning while the driver was traveling in the Willington area. The force of the ice hitting the windshield caused the glass to shatter and fall into the car’s passenger seat. Fortunately, no one was in the passenger seat at the time.

The driver as shaken up but uninjured, according to the trooper who responded to the call.

Drivers in Connecticut face fines under state law if they fail to clear off their car. The driver could be fined $75 for a vehicle that is not cleared. Fines can be up to $1,000 for passenger cars and small trucks, and up to $1,250 for commercial vehicles if ice or snow launches off a vehicle and injuries someone or damages property.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Pedestrian Killed by Hit-And-Run Driver in Waterbury: Police


A female pedestrian was killed when she was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Waterbury Tuesday night, according to Waterbury police.

Police said they received a 911 call that a pedestrian was struck near Hill Street and Hazel Street around 7:15 p.m. Police found the victim with “massive” head trauma on the sidewalk in front of 290 Hill Street, police said. She was pronounced dead on scene.

Investigators believe the victim was walking north on Hill Street when she was hit by a vehicle traveling northbound. Witnesses described the suspect vehicle as a black GMC Envoy.

Police are actively investigating. Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the crash should contact Waterbury police.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Police Urge Drivers to Avoid Part of I-84 East in Tolland


State police are warning about delays on Interstate 84 East in Tolland after two inclidents involving tractor-trailers and advise drivers to see alternate routes.

One incident is a tractor-trailer fire and crews from the state Department of Consumer Protection have been called out to the scene.

State police said they are not sure what the truck is carrying or how the fire started, but a wrecker is at the scene.

Officials said no one one hurt.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Suffield Firefighter Makes Daring Rescue During House Fire


A Suffield firefighter took quick action to rescue a resident from a house fire Friday morning.

Suffield fire officials said Lt. Seger was one of several firefighters who responded to a Lifeline activation from a resident at 567 Boston Neck Road just before 7 a.m. When firefighters arrived there was heavy black smoke coming from the back of the building.

Seger knew the building and knew the resident had limited mobility, so when he heard the resident’s calls for help, he entered the home without a hose line for his own protection and began crawling through heavy dark smoke to find the victim, fire officials said.

According to fire officials Seger was able to rescue the resident from the home and Suffield EMS began treatment immediately. The victim was taken to Saint Francis Hospital for further treatment.

Multiple agencies responded to assist with the call including Suffield police, Suffield Ambulance, the Suffield Highway Department, the Air National Guard, and the Southwick, Mass., Thompsonville and Windsor Locks fire departments.

The fire chief said the fire started in a back bedroom on the first floor and was contained to that area of the home. The house sustained some minimal smoke and water damage, officials said.

The victim, who lives alone, has a disability and his caretaker wasn't at the house when the fire broke out, officials said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut,com

Governor to Make Announcement About Bradley Airport


Gov. Dannel Malloy will be holding a news conference about Bradley Airport this afternoon and his office said it will be a “major announcement.” 

Malloy, Charles R. Gray, the chairman of the board of directors for the Connecticut Airport Authority; and the CAA executive director, Kevin Dillon, will be among the attendees. 

The news conference begins at 1:15 p.m. in Terminal A of the airport, which is located in Windsor Locks.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

North Korea Defector Says Elite Turning Backs on Kim Jong Un


Dissent is on the rise in North Korea and leader Kim Jong Un's "days are numbered," according to the country's highest profile defector to South Korea since 1997, NBC News reported.

Thae Yong Ho, Pyongyang’s former deputy ambassador to the U.K., said information has been seeping into the country, loosening the strict control the government has over residents.

Wednesday was the first time Thae spoke with overseas media outlets, but he has been making media appearances since his defection. He has been giving insight about the poor, authoritarian and nuclear-armed country.

"When Kim Jong Un first came to power I was hopeful that he would make reasonable and rational decisions to save North Korea from poverty," he said. "But I soon fell into despair watching him purging officials for no proper reason."

He said concern about his university-aged children's future was the trigger for his defection.

Photo Credit: AP
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Plainville Officer Accused of Taking Hundreds of Pills From Scene


A Plainville officer was put on paid leave last year after being accused of taking hundreds of prescription pills while on the scene of a suicide.

Plainville Police Chief Matthew Catania recommends terminating Sgt. Michael Bisnov from the police force, based on the final report of the internal affairs investigation, obtained by NBC Connecticut.

Bisnov was one of the officers who responded to a suspected suicide on January 18, 2016, after a family friend of 54-year-old Frank Iris called 911 for a well being check.

The report said he was the scene supervisor.

The responding officers found Iris’ body inside his apartment. Scattered nearby were 21 bottles of prescription pills, including painkillers.

In video obtained by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, Bisnov is seen carrying a yellow bag into the police station after responding to the scene. The final investigation report stated the bag contained prescription pills found at Iris’ residence.

“(Bisnov) is then observed dumping the contents of the bag into the prescription drop box, without properly logging the medications as evidence,” according to the author of that report Lt. Nick Mullins.

The report also states Bisnov took a stop in between to the men’s locker room

“Bisnov opened sealed prescription bottles and at some point in time, an oxycodone 5 mg pill inside one of the bottles fell on the floor without his knowledge. The best evidence is that during this time, Sgt. Bisnov took a substantial amount of Frank Iris' medication (pills) and mixed together some of the remaining medications prior to disposing the rest in the prescription drop box," Mullins wrote.

The officer was put on paid leave eight days after the suicide of Frank Iris. Bisnov denied taking any of the 230 pills that went missing for his personal use. When specifically asked if he stole the medication, the former officer’s response was, “No, I didn’t,” according to documents contained within the report.

Bisnov told investigators he disposed of the pills at the request of Iris’ family, however, the victim’s mother, Carolyn, said the officer offered to get rid of the pills himself.

“(Bisnov) said he was going to put the medications in a safe place” Carolyn told NBC Connecticut.

When investigators pulled Bisnov’s prescription history from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, they found medications that matched pills gathered at the suicide scene.

The internal affairs report concluded Bisnov violated nine sections of the department's code of conduct, violating rules and regulations, including truthfulness, conduct unbecoming an officer and falsifying records. No criminal charges have been filed against Bisnov, of Meriden.

The town council will meet next month to consider Bisnov’s future with the department.

In the meantime, Bisnov is still earning his $83,000 annual salary from the sidelines.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters requested and obtained the most recent direct deposit slips from Town Manager, Robert E. Lee.

Lee told NBC Connecticut, “This kind of issue takes time to resolve and we are cognizant of not wasting taxpayer money. It was important for us to be as thorough as possible because these types of issues don’t necessarily end, even if a decision is made to let Sgt. Bisnov go.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to both Sgt. Bisnov and the police union multiple times but have not heard back.

State police are also investigating this case.

Photo Credit: Plainville Police Department

New Haven Police Investigating First Homicide of 2017


A man who was critically injured in a shooting in New Haven on Saturday has died, according to police.

Police said 45-year-old Abraham Colon Rodriguez was found near the passenger side of his car at the intersection of Arthur Street and Lamberton Street around 3:15 a.m. Saturday. He was suffering gunshot woulds to the neck, shoulder and leg.

New Haven police said they were called to the intersection of Arthur Street and Lamberton Street around 3:15 a.m. The victim was found near the passenger side of his car, suffering from gunshot wounds to the neck, shoulder, and leg.

He was taken to the hospital where he died during the overnight hours on Wednesday.

Police said a female friend of the victim witnessed the shooting and is cooperating with police. She told police the pair had left a New Haven bar before the shooting occurred.

Police have not released a suspect description at this point.

According to police, there have been other shootings in the area and a nearby building has been known to sell alcohol after-hours at parties. Police are investigating whether the pair was attending one of those parties.

This is New Haven's first homicide case of 2017. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should contact New Haven police at 203-946-6304.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

North Korea Ready For New Missile Test: Official


North Korea is ready to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile "at any time, at any place," a senior regime official has exclusively told NBC News.

If such a launch was successfully carried out, it would be a major step toward Pyongyang's goal of targeting the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-armed weapon.

The comments were made by Choe Kang Il, deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, and highlight international concerns that the Kim Jong Un regime is more technologically advanced than previously thought.

North Korea has conducted a total of five nuclear tests, including two last year, but the country has never successfully launched an ICBM.

Photo Credit: AP, File

City Councilman Sworn in, Captain America Shield in Hand


A new San Jose city councilman held a Captain America shield as he was sworn in on Tuesday night, telling NBC Bay Area that the Marvel Comics character "embodies the ideas of America."

Lan Diep, a Republican legal aid attorney, received cheers after he said "I do solemnly swear" when the clerk asked if he would defend his oath of office. His final vote of his first meeting? Joining the council in unanimously banning the communist Vietnamese flag from flying in San Jose.

In an interview after the meeting, the proud comic book geek and Houston-born son of Vietnamese refugees said that Captain America stands for the "kinds of things I strive for: equal justice, fair play and democracy."

Diep won a council seat on his second try, after losing in 2015, though the 2016 vote is still being contested. He's been recognized by presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush, after moving to Mississippi to help people affected by the BP oil spill.

Diep came to San Jose in 1999 and graduated from Independence High School, the University of California, San Diego and the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law, according to his campaign website.

Along with his legal work with the Mississippi Center for Justice, Diep has worked as an international broadcaster for Radio Free Asia and the Legal Aid Society in San Jose.

Diep said he brought the iconic Captain America shield to his swearing-in because "I think it's a symbol of what's positive," he said, "in this darkened political landscape."

He did not, however, bring the shield to specifically combat the new president, Donald Trump even though he said in his mind, "Trump is not a real Republican, and some might say that about me."

"I wasn't trying to protest the president, but it's a reminder of what America aspires to be. In this administration, local government will have more of a role to play in taking care of its citizens," Diep said. "In that way, realizing that this is the landscape I'm stepping into, I wanted to shine a ray of optimism and levity."

Diep said he wants to wait and see if Trump will actually hold true on many of his campaign promises, like banning Muslims from the U.S. and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, before he passes judgment.

In fact, Diep was out at San Jose's women's march on Saturday. He also attended Obama's farewell address in Chicago this month.

Others have also found the symbolism of Captain America especially poignant as Trump became a force in American politics.

Vishavijit Singh, a Washington-born Sikh software engineer-turned-cartoonist, has been dressing as the cartoon character — complete with blue turban — for the last three or so years to fight racial stereotypes.

Singh, a Democrat, went to Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, dressed in full costume, to continue battling the bigotry that many minority groups have felt with Trump's rise. And Singh was also behind the #SendSikhNotetoTrump during the campaign, NBC News reported.

Most recently, Singh attended the Women's March in D.C., and told NBC Bay Area that he got "tons of love and support from women" and many asked him if he, a Sikh man, was safe.

For him, the cartoon outfit has taken on "new urgency." He said he wants to build a bridge with those who supported Trump, because "it shows me the imperative that I have to step out even more," he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

As for what Diep is doing across the country in San Jose, Singh said it's OK that the councilman is a Republican and wasn't motivated necessarily to fight racism, perse. Diep and Singh had never heard of each other before Wednesday, and were motivated by their own individual pursuits.

Still, Singh mused, the Marvel jojjodicharacter is a unifying force of good: "Captain America cuts across the spectrum of all divides."

NBC Bay Area's Ian Cull contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Ian Cull/NBC Bay Area
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North Haven Police Seek Armed Robbery Suspect


Surveillance video captured the moment a suspect wielding a gun robbed a Shell Gas Station in North Haven Tuesday night, according to police.

Police said a man entered the store at 195 State Street around 10 p.m., pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded money. The clerk gave the suspect cash from the register, police said.

The suspect then fled on foot. Anyone who recognizes the suspect is asked to contact North Haven police at 203-239-5321.

Photo Credit: North Haven Police Department

1 in Custody After Stolen Car Crashes Near CCSU: Police


West Hartford police assisted with a stolen car case out of New Britain and said a juvenile has been turned over to New Britain police while other people in the car got away. 

New Britain Police reached out to other departments Tuesday to be on the lookout for a stolen car, then Hartford police asked law enforcement agencies to look out for the same vehicle in connection with an armed robbery in Hartford, according to West Hartford Police. 

Around 6:30 p.m., West Hartford police saw the same vehicle and followed it to Ella Grasso Boulevard, at which point more units from West Hartford, New Britain, Newington and state police converged on the area. police said. 

West Hartford officers used stop sticks to disable the vehicle and the driver crashed near the campus of Central Connecticut State University, according to police. West Hartford officers captured one juvenile who ran from the car while several other people were able to get away, according to West Hartford Police. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mary Tyler Moore Dead at 80


Mary Tyler Moore, who will forever be known to a generation as the woman who could "turn the world on with her smile," died Wednesday in a Connecticut hospital. She was 80.

Mary Tyler Moore, the star of TV's beloved "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" died Wednesday with her husband and friends nearby, her publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said. 

Moore gained fame in the 1960s as the frazzled wife Laura Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." In the 1970s, she created one of TV's first career-woman sitcom heroines in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

She won seven Emmy awards over the years and was nominated for an Oscar for her 1980 portrayal of an affluent mother whose son is accidentally killed in "Ordinary People."

She had battled diabetes for many years. In 2011, she underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor on the lining of her brain.

Moore's first major TV role was on the classic sitcom "The Dick Van Dyke Show," in which she played the young homemaker wife of Van Dyke's character, comedy writer Rob Petrie, from 1961-66.

With her unerring gift for comedy, Moore seemed perfectly fashioned to the smarter wit of the new, post-Eisenhower age. As Laura, she traded in the housedress of countless sitcom wives and clad her dancer's legs in Capri pants that were as fashionable as they were suited to a modern American woman.

Laura was a dream wife and mother, but not perfect. Viewers identified with her flustered moments and her protracted, plaintive cry to her husband: "Ohhhh, Robbbb!"

Moore's chemistry with Van Dyke was unmistakable. Decades later, he spoke warmly of the chaste but palpable off-screen crush they shared during the show's run.

They also appeared together in several TV specials over the years and in 2003, co-starred in a PBS production of the play "The Gin Game."

But it was as Mary Richards, the plucky Minneapolis TV news producer on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77), that Moore truly made her mark.

At a time when women's liberation was catching on worldwide, her character brought to TV audiences an independent, 1970s career woman. Other than Marlo Thomas' 1960s sitcom character "That Girl," who at least had a steady boyfriend, there were few precedents.

Mary Richards was comfortable being single in her 30s, and while she dated, she wasn't desperate to get married. She sparred affectionately with her gruff boss, Lou Grant, played by Ed Asner and addressed always as "Mr. Grant." And millions agreed with the show's theme song that she could "turn the world on with her smile."

The show was filled with laughs. But no episode was more memorable than the bittersweet finale when new management fired the entire WJM News staff — everyone but the preening, clueless anchorman, Ted Baxter. Thus did the series dare to question whether Mary Richards actually did "make it after all."

The series ran seven seasons and won 29 Emmys, a record that stood for a quarter century until "Frasier" broke it in 2002.

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" spawned the spin-offs "Rhoda," (1974-78), starring Valerie Harper; "Phyllis" (1975-77), starring Cloris Leachman; and "Lou Grant" (1977-82), starring Asner in a rare drama spun off from a comedy.

Mary Richards "certainly was never a character that I had to develop when we were doing the show," Moore said in a 1995 interview with The Associated Press. "Everything I did was by the seat of the pants. I reacted to every written situation the way I would have in real life."

She likened being linked with that role to "growing up with a mother who is a very famous actress. There are all kinds of wonderful perks that go with it, and then there are little resentments, too.

"My life is inextricably intertwined with Mary Richards', and probably always will be," she said.

"Mary Tyler Moore" was the first in a series of acclaimed, award-winning shows she produced with her second husband, Grant Tinker, who died in November 2016, through their MTM Enterprises. (The meowing kitten at the end of the shows was a parody of the MGM lion.) "The Bob Newhart Show," ''Hill Street Blues," ''St. Elsewhere" and "WKRP in Cincinnati" are among the MTM series that followed.

Moore won her seventh Emmy in 1993, for supporting actress in a miniseries or special, for a Lifetime network movie, "Stolen Babies." She had won two for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and the other four for "Mary Tyler Moore."

At the time, her seven tied her with former co-star Asner for the record of prime-time Emmy acting wins. Another co-star, Leachman, later surpassed them with eight prime-time Emmys in acting and variety show categories.

In 2012, Moore received the Screen Actors Guild's lifetime achievement award.

Moore never achieved the individual success with a television series that she enjoyed with "Mary Tyler Moore."

She starred in two different programs called "Mary" — one, a comedy/variety hour similar to "The Carol Burnett Show," lasted only a few episodes in 1978. Another variety show, "The Mary Tyler Moore Hour," spent a few months on the air in 1979.

The second "Mary," a sitcom in which Moore played a divorced Chicago newspaper columnist, bounced between time slots for about six months before being canceled in 1986.

Then in fall 1986, another flop: "Annie McGuire," in which she played a divorced woman who had remarried for the second time. It lasted just two months.

She also asked to be written out of "New York News," a drama set at a newspaper, which aired for two months in 1995.

On the big screen, Moore's appearances were less frequent. She was a 1920s flapper in the hit 1967 musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and a nun who falls for Elvis Presley in "Change of Habit" in 1969.

She turned to serious drama in 1980's "Ordinary People," playing an affluent, bitter mother who loses a son in an accident. The film won the Oscar for best picture and best director for Robert Redford, and it earned Moore an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe. She also played the mother of a dying girl in 1982's "Six Weeks" and real-life cancer survivor Betty Rollin in a 1978 TV movie, "First You Cry."

Moore endured personal tragedy in real life, too. The same year "Ordinary People" came out, her only child, Richard, who'd had trouble in school and with drugs, accidentally shot himself at 24. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, died at 21 from a combination of a painkillers and alcohol.

In her 1995 autobiography "After All," Moore admitted she helped her terminally ill brother try to commit suicide by feeding him ice cream laced with a deadly overdose of drugs. The attempt failed, and her 47-year-old brother, John, died three months later in 1992 of kidney cancer.

Moore herself lived with juvenile diabetes for some 40 years and told of her struggle in her 2009 book, "Growing Up Again." She also spent five weeks at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1984 for alcohol abuse, writing that they "transformed my life — and gave me a chance to start growing up — even at my advanced age ... of 45."

She served as chairwoman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International, supported embryonic stem cell research and was active in animal rights causes.

In 1983, Moore married cardiologist Robert Levine, who survives her. Her marriage to Tinker lasted from 1962 to 1981. Before that, she was married to Dick Meeker from 1955 to 1961.

Moore was born in 1936 in Brooklyn; the family moved to California when she was around 8 years old.

She began dancing lessons as a child and launched her career while still in her teens, appearing in TV commercials. In the mid-'50s, she was a dancing sprite called "Happy Hotpoint" in Hotpoint appliance ads.

One of her early TV series roles was as a secretary who was unseen, except for her legs, on "Richard Diamond, Private Detective."

She arrived at "The Dick Van Dyke Show" at age 24, a dancer with few acting credits and scant evidence of any gift for being funny.

Decades later, Carl Reiner, who created the show, still marveled at the comic genius he discovered and nurtured.

"She was a very quick study," he recalled in 2014. "It didn't take her very long."

It was start of a comic legacy.

In 1992, Moore received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A decade later, a life-size bronze statue went on display in Minneapolis, depicting her tossing her trademark tam into the air as she did in the opening credits of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

HP Recalls More Than 100,000 Batteries Due to Overheating


HP is recalling about 101,000 laptop batteries due to risk of overheating and causing fires.

The company has expanded the number of recalled batteries to include those shipped with laptops sold between March 2013 and October 2016. A previous battery issue for the same model led to a recall of 40,000 batteries in June 2016.

The defective lithium-ion batteries containing Panasonic cells that are used in HP notebook computers were sold at Best Buy, Walmart, Costco, Sam's Club and authorized dealer dealers nationwide and online at www.hp.com. The batteries were also sold separately for between $50 and $90.

It is compatible with HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario and HP Pavilion laptop computers. The batteries that are part of the recall start with the codes: 6BZLU, 6CGFK, 6CGFQ, 6CZMB, 6DEMA, 6DEMH, 6DGAL and 6EBVA.

HP recommends that customers with the potentially defective batteries stop using them completely, remove them from the laptop and contact HP for a free replacement battery. Until a replacement battery is received, HP recommends consumers should use the notebook computer by plugging it into AC power only.

There has been one report of the battery overheating, melting and charring, leading to about $1,000 in property damage.

Customers can call HP Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET at 888-202-4320 on line at www.HP.com for more information. 

Man Tells Girl He’s Her Uber Driver, Offers Ride to School


Police are investigating after a man who identified himself as an Uber driver approached a middle school student in her driveway in Cheshire Wednesday and offered her a ride to school.

Police said the incident happened near Dodd Middle School. The girl was starting to walk to school when she saw a white newer model four-door sedan parked at the end of her driveway. The man in it called her by her first name, said he was her Uber driver and asked her several times if she wanted an Uber ride to school, but she finally went back into her home, police said.

When an adult went outside with the girl, the man was gone.

Police said he was thin, with short dark hair, a black beard and brown eyes.

Anyone with information or who has a similar complaint should call the CPD Tip Hotline at 203-271-5534.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Recalled Stove Explodes in Westport Home


A stove that had was part of a recall issued more than five years ago exploded in a Westport home on Tuesday, according to the Westport Fire Department. 

Firefighters responded to reports of a stove fire and explosion and learned that the resident had tried to turn on the propane-powered range-top then there was a small gas explosion under unit. 

Investigators said a failure or leak in the unit likely caused the explosion and the resident shut it off immediately, preventing further damage and injuries. 

According to the fire department, the fire marshal’s office alerted the Consumer Product Safety Commission of the incident and further investigation revealed the gas range-top had been recalled in 2011 and the manufacturer received reports of six other explosions. 

If you smell gas or have any problem with any fuel-fired appliance, leave the area and call 911, the fire department urges.

Residents can check the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website for safety data, information and recalls.

If you have any questions or concerns, call Westport fire marshal’s office at 203-341-5020 or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Photo Credit: Westport Fire

House Passes Abortion Funding Ban Days After Women's March


Days after millions of women marched nationwide to bring attention to women’s issues, the Trump administration and Congress have responded with actions against women's reproductive rights.

On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. House passed H.R. 7, anti-abortion legislation, voting 238-183. The bill proposes to permanently ban women from receiving federal financial assistance for abortions. While the bill does not ban abortions outright, it bans all government subsidies of abortions. This ban reaches beyond Medicaid to include private insurers that cover abortions through plans bought on exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.

“Pro-life Americans struggle for the day when abortion violence will be replaced by compassion and empathy for women and respect for weak and vulnerable children in the womb,” the Republican congressman said on the House floor. “They believe, as do my pro-life colleagues and I, that we ought to love them both--mother and child--and not fund the destruction of children through abortion.” 

The bill extends the provisions the Hyde Amendment, which excludes abortions from federally funded health care provided to low-income people, primarily through Medicaid. The only exceptions in the Hyde Amendment to permit abortions are rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is endangered. 

Most states have followed this provision, but 17 states still fund abortions for low-income women.

If H.R. 7 is signed into law, no state would be permitted to subsidize them. Furthermore, the law will indirectly stop insurance plans from offering abortion coverage by refusing government subsidies to women to choose plans that include abortion coverage under ACA.

“There is no chance this bill will pass the Senate,” said Matt House, senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "It won't gain enough Democratic support."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office said it had no announcement to make about the legislation or when it might be taken up.

Identical versions of H.R. 7 were passed in 2014 and 2015, but never made it through the Senate and would have likely been vetoed by then-President Obama. However, if the bill passes in the Senate, President Trump could be expected to sign the bill into law, having voiced a strong anti-abortion stance on the campaign trail and through the revival of "The Mexico City Policy."

On Monday, President Trump reinstated the policy, which is an executive order blocking foreign aid or federal funding to any international nongovernmental organization that provides abortions. The “gag” order began with President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Since then, incoming Democratic presidents have rescinded the order and incoming Republican presidents have reinstated the order upon taking office. 

H.R. 7 comes on the heels of the Women’s March on Washington, which took place on Jan. 21 and expanded to sister marches in major cities across the country and around the world. A common theme in speeches and seen on signs at the marches was the phrase “my body, my choice,” referencing women’s reproductive health choices. One women's group, New Wave Feminists, was removed from the official sponsorship of the event after voicing anti-abortion views. 

“Decisions about a woman’s health care should be made in her doctor’s office, not on the House floor,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement about H.R. 7. “The bill passed by the House is a sweeping assault on women’s health that aims to eliminate abortion coverage for millions, make Hyde and other abortion bans permanent and undermine a woman’s ability to make personal decisions about her own health care.” 

Richards also said that the passage of H.R. 7 would disproportionately affect low-income women and women of color. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 75 percent of abortion patients are poor or low-income women and 59 percent are women of color.

“The House of Representatives’ vote today on H.R. 7 was a vote to punish women who seek abortions on the basis of how much money they earn, where they live, and how they are insured,” Dr. Willie Park, board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement. “No woman should be denied the ability to make this personal health decision because she is poor.”

Photo Credit: Toronto Star via Getty Images

Mar-a-Lago Membership Fee Doubles to $200,000


Mar-a-Lago, the Trump organization's Palm Beach resort, has doubled its membership fee to $200,000, CNBC reported.

The increase began on Jan. 1, according to people close to the resort. It had been considering raising the price for some time, they said. Members have access to a beach club, pools, restaurant, tennis courts, and more, as well as the possibility of mingling with President Donald Trump.

The fee hike drew criticism from many, including Barack Obama’s former ethics lawyer.

While there’s no way of knowing whether membership demand has increased, the initiation fee remained at $100,000 from 2012 until January. Members pay $14,000 per year in annual dues on top of their initiation fee.

Photo Credit: AP, Lynne Sladky

2 Dallas Window Washers Rescued


Live video from Chopper 5 will appear in the player above. From time to time the signal may go black -- this is normal and the video should return soon.

Firefighters with Dallas Fire-Rescue pulled two stranded window washers off a high-rise building in North Dallas Wednesday afternoon.

The window washers were in distress and dangling from the Prosperity Bank building at 9330 LBJ Freeway near Abrams after their scaffolding apparently failed and fell to one side just before 2 p.m.

From NBC Dallas-Fort Worth Chopper 5, the scaffolding could be seen hanging vertically with only one set of support wires to the roof intact. It is not yet known what caused the scaffolding to fail.

After raising one of the workers to the roof, a member of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Urban Search and Rescue Team rappelled down the building and secured the second worker to another line before lowering him to the ground at about 2:50 p.m.

Attempts to raise the second man to the roof apparently failed.

Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans told NBC 5 it appears safety equipment worn by the men worked as it should and kept them safe after the scaffolding failed.

Neither of the men were believed to be seriously injured, though the second man rescued was transported to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas for an evaluation.

NBC 5 Meteorologist Rick Mitchell estimated winds of 10-15 mph. Mitchell noted that the wind was not severe enough to move the stranded worker or disturb the scaffolding.

Check back and refresh this page for the latest update. As this story is developing, elements may change.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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